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Landlords, Leases and The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Law360

Valerie L. Hletko, Sasha Leonhardt, Sara Ruvic, Jeffrey P. Naimon

As President Obama slows the drawdown of troops overseas — and as the nation expands its fight against ISIS — a growing number of service members will seek the benefits and protections of a nearly century-old law that protects them on the homefront while they serve on active duty: the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Although most of the SCRA focus over the past few years has been on the law’s foreclosure and interest rate protections, the SCRA is a broad statute that can affect nearly all of a service member’s civil obligations.

In August, a press release issued by New York Attorney General Eric Schnieiderman highlighted the need for landlords and financial institutions to remain vigilant regarding their compliance with the SCRA. In the wake of an announcement that 2,500 New York service members would be deployed overseas, Attorney General Schneiderman cautioned landlords to observe both the letter and spirit of the SCRA’s protections for residential tenants. And in October, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued her own consumer alert to ensure that landlords and military families are aware of the SCRA’s eviction protection.

In this article, we explore two of the SCRA’s lesser-known provisions that govern residential leases: the ability of a service member or dependent to terminate a residential lease at will and the protection against eviction of a service member or service member’s dependent during the service member’s active duty military service.

Originally published in Law360; reprinted with permission. 

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